WEA and WCC discuss renewed global church collaboration

By staff writers
January 25, 2015

In the light of of what they both describe as "current global realities", representatives of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) met from 20 to 21 January 2015 at the Chateau of Bossey, Switzerland, to explore and discuss possible areas of future cooperation.

The meeting featured introductions to the work of the WEA and the WCC, and participants reflected together on current developments in society and churches, and in evangelical and ecumenical movements.

The two bodies shared current plans and discussed ideas for closer collaboration.

A jointly issued press statement explained: "Stressing the significance of being Christian witnesses, the meeting participants also identified various ways of responding together to the needs of communities around the world.

"Together the participants read the Scriptures and reflected on similar and different understandings of mission and evangelism. They prayed together and shared stories of faith.

"Recognising the importance of a joint response to a suffering world, the participants agreed to continue to meet in order to identify further areas of possible cooperation."

The WEA representatives at the meeting were Dr Wilf Gasser, Associate Secretary General, Gordon Showell-Rogers, Associate General Secretary, Thomas Schirrmacher, executive chairperson of the Theological Commission and ambassador for human rights, Rosalee Velloso Ewell, executive director of the Theological Commission, Bertil Ekström, executive director of the Mission Commission; and John Baxter-Brown, senior advisor on Evangelism and Ecumenical Affairs.

The WCC representatives at the meeting were Georges Lemopoulos, WCC acting General Secretary, Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC Associate General Secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia, the Rev Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC Associate General Secretary and director of the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland, the Rev Dr Hielke Wolters, WCC Associate General Secretary for Mission and Unity, Canon John Gibaut, director of the Commission on Faith and Order, the Rev Dr Jooseop Keum, secretary for the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism and Peter Prove, director of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs.

Significantly, the WEA and WCC discussions came in the midst of the 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The World Council of Churches is reckoned to be the broadest and most inclusive among the many organised expressions of the modern ecumenical movement, a movement whose goal is Christian unity.

The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches and historic peace churches.

At the end of 2013, there were 345 member churches. While the bulk of the WCC's founding churches were European and North American, today most member churches are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific.

The World Evangelical Alliance is a network of churches in 129 nations that have each formed an evangelical alliance and over 100 international organisations joining together to give a world-wide identity, voice, and platform to more than 600 million evangelical Christians.

There is an overlap of membership between the two bodies, but also considerable variation.

The Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC, but there is close consultation and representation on key commissions on mission and evangelism and faith and order.

* Ecumenical perspectives on Christian mission and unity: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/mission-and-unity

* Website of the World Evangelical Alliance: http://www.worldea.org

* WCC: http://www.oikoumene.org/

[Ekk/3]

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